By Oliver Brett
It was, as Michael Vaughan so rightly said, "an up-and-down sort of a summer."
England, lest we forget, went into the Test series against South Africa on an unexpected high.
They had beaten South Africa three times in four meetings on the way to lifting the NatWest series in emphatic style at Lord's.
But the redoubtable blade of Graeme Smith, the opposition captain so crassly labelled 'whatshisname' by Nasser Hussain, ensured South Africa took the early running.
After the Lord's Test, England were 1-0 down with three to play, and Smith was threatening to score 1,000 runs in the series.
But, as injuries and exhaustion took their toll, James Kirtley was handed his debut at Trent Bridge and duly bowled England to victory on a terrible pitch.
Suddenly, when Headingley came around, the boot was on the other foot and at 21-4 on the first morning, South Africa looked racing certainties to lose the match.
The batting of Gary Kirsten and the bowling of Jacques Kallis instead consigned England to a second defeat in the series.
Bookmakers pushed out England's odds of winning at The Oval to 40/1 after Herschelle Gibbs's quick-fire 183 on day one.
But if there is one ground in the world where you are not entirely safe after hitting nearly 500 in the first innings, The Oval is the one.
Graham Thorpe, finally back in the team, Trescothick and Flintoff gave England a decent lead.
Then Harmison and Martin Bicknell bowled South Africa out cheaply and that was that.
Flintoff was named England's man-of-the-series by virtue of having blazed 423 runs in eight innings at number seven.
After the dust had settled, it seemed an awful long time ago that England had thrashed Zimbabwe at the beginning of the summer in two Tests that only lasted three days each.
While that series may have lacked any trace of competition, it saw James Anderson and Richard Johnson eased into the Test match arena - and how they prospered.
Gough was the perfect foil for James Anderson in the one-dayers
England's Mr Reliable with the bat these days, Mark Butcher, kicked off his summer with a century at Lord's.
Nearly 600 runs came his way over seven Tests in the course of the summer, but this classy left-hander has, oddly, never played a one-day international.
As a team, England played a total of 10 one-day matches between the two series, and new skipper Vaughan lifted two trophies sponsored by NatWest.
Here, the bowling was often key to setting up a string of successful England run chases.
Anderson and Darren Gough, with the economical Flintoff to back them up, made Trescothick's tasks at The Oval and Lord's a lot easier in the 2-1 series win over Pakistan.
It was a similar story by and large in the triangular series involving Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Rikki Clarke and Vikram Solanki also had their moments with the bat, but Jim Troughton struggled.
England will certainly be glad to welcome the return of the fit-again Paul Collingwood in the middle order as they head off to Bangladesh for the first of three winter tours.